The Importance of Being Peaceful

Joyce Meyer Got a Tattoo! Surprised? Hold on, we’ll get to that later. First, let me share some of what Joyce taught me about peace.

Peace is wonderful, but it isn’t automatic. Hebrews 12:14 says, Make every effort to live in peace with everyone.” A life of peace doesn’t just land in our laps. We have to “make every effort.” How? We could always start by taking these steps:

Value peace. Then you’ll be willing to make the effort.

Stop being angry. Let the offensive moments of life roll off your back. Proverbs 17:9 tells us, “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”

Avoid peace killers. God is good. Good is going on in the world. But that’s not what you’re likely to hear about when you’re plugged in to mainstream media for hours on end.

Humble yourself. It’s a whole lot easier to experience peace once you no longer need to impress people.

Avoid “acceptable sins” like jealousy and unforgiveness.

Be nice. Be helpful. Be positive. Give people mercy.

Mind your own business. That can be a tough one, but give it a try!

Now, about that tattoo. Proverbs 16:28 warns that, “A perverse person stirs up conflict,and a gossip separates close friends.”  One way to express that in today’s language might be “mind your own business!” Joyce Meyer recently got two tattoos. One is generally unseen, but I saw the one on her ankle (from a distance). It reminds her to walk in love.

Unscriptural? Probably not. Some people believe the Bible says we shouldn’t get tattoos. Others, including Joyce, believe the verse used to forbid tattoos is talking about a pagan act done to honor the dead.

Controversial? Probably so. But only for those who choose to mind Joyce’s business instead of their own. We aren’t free to judge people who do what we think they shouldn’t do, particularly when the Bible is fuzzy at best on the matter. Perhaps Joyce was led to get tattoos to make that very point.

Are you losing your peace over someone else’s choices today? Are you angry? Jealous? Bitter? Flooded with negative media? Bound up in a desire to please other people? Value peace! Hit your knees and ask our Lord to renew you from within. Then continue, by his grace, to make every effort to live in peace with everyone. We can change the world that way.

photo credit: @ isracguti19 via


pooh pixabay tatianaDm

We’re living in a weird world, aren’t we? Most days, I’ve become accustomed to morning news that sounds like a science fiction movie, and days that run along a different pattern than this time last year. I manage to remember that God is still on his throne. But I’m a little down today. ‘No real reason that I can identify.  Steve (unintentionally) woke me up in the middle of the night, but that’s not particularly unusual, and I did go back to sleep. It’s cloudy, but clouds are a welcome gift in Austin’s summer heat. I could point to a few “first world problems” needling me, but even those usually fade into the background of my blessings.

So what’s wrong?

I think, as I type and analyze, that what’s most wrong is that I want to figure it all out. Why do we do that? Life would be smoother if, when it comes to short-term blues, we would tell ourselves, “Hey, this too will pass. Praise the Lord anyway and wait it out.”

Now, I’m not talking about grief or true depression or times in our lives when we have to face real trouble head-on. Those time call for introspection and, more often than not, the help of others. But, for today, I think I need to lean into Hannah Whitall Smith’s teaching about faith, facts, and feelings. While you can read a longer version here, I’ll give you the “CliffsNotes” version now:

I have faith in the Lord God Almighty.

It’s a fact that he loves me, is in charge, and provides all sorts of advice in the Bible about how to handle sadness.

My feelings are unreliable, and can fluctuate for any number of reasons, some of which I’ll never figure out.

So, today I’ll cut myself some slack. I won’t keep trying to “fix” this Eeyore day. I’ll praise God without the emotion I’d like to be experiencing. And, hopefully, I’ll manage to stay nice to those around me. (Whatever is the opposite of rose-tinting, that’s the sort of glasses I might be seeing the world through today. Thus, it’s probably best to keep my mouth shut if I see something or someone out of order.)

And tomorrow, odds are, I’ll be me again, and particularly thankful that the sun has come back out within me.

Have you been there? Are you there now? Join Hannah and me in taking a deep breath and remembering the truth. You will get through this, probably sooner than you think.

(And, for those dear friends who are about to pick up the phone and check on me, while I’d love to hear from you, please bear in mind that I rarely write on the same day that I post. When you call, hopefully I will have all sorts of cheery things to say!)

Psalm 43:5 is perfect for this issue: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Photo by tatianaDm via pixabay.





For Tomorrow: 1 Thessalonians 5

This is God’s will for you:

Rejoice always!

Pray continually. 

Give thanks in all circumstances.

And so, may God grace you with a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo by GDJ via

The Sunset and the Dirt

Rachel Watkins Sunset

My son is blessed to have married into a godly family. I’d like to share a bit of that blessing with you today. Here are the words of his sister-in-law, Rachel, a young woman just into her second year of teaching.


I came home from work yesterday feeling more weary than usual. I normally listen to a podcast on the way home from work, often sitting in the car for a few minutes to finish it up before I head into the house. Today was different. After the podcast ended, I couldn’t seem to find the energy or motivation to get out of the car and go inside.

I knew what was on the other side of that door: a pile of dishes accumulated throughout the week, stacks of laundry yet to be put away, homework to grade, and lessons that needed to be planned. I wasn’t ready to deal with it all. I started to make a to do list in my head, which normally brings panic rather than organization and productivity. Finally, I just closed my eyes and took a deep breath. When I opened them, I noticed the breathtaking sunset in front of me. Like any other contemporary woman, I picked up my phone to snap a photo.

I tried to get my camera lens to focus on the brilliance and grace of the setting sun, the bright orange rays streaming out from all sides. Sadly, though, my windshield was too dirty. My camera lens could only focus on the specs of bird poop and squished bugs that had accumulated during my daily commute. (Sorry, Dad!) I started to become frustrated, but then I realized….I was acting like my camera lens. I couldn’t figure out how to focus on the beauty of what was right in front of me because I was so focused on all the little specs of dirt in my life. The worst part? I was allowing those specs to block the wonder of the gift God had created for me!

  • How many times do we do the same thing throughout our everyday life?
  • How many times do we let a disagreement keep us from seeing the blessing of a relationship?
  • How many times do we let stinky socks, dirty dishes, and unmade beds distract us from the beautiful lives that create the mess?

Whatever is distracting you from the gift of God’s goodness today, I encourage you: Take a deep breath, step out of the car, and capture the moment—because sunsets don’t last forever!

I Need Internet!!!

She looked to be about six years old, sitting there in the Sacramento airport (which, as airport terminals go, is really rather nice.) I don’t know her name, but for the sake of this story, let’s call her Emma. She was with her family, had a carryon next to her that looked a bit like a pink and gray elephant, and was holding an ipad. A few moments earlier, I’d heard her say, “There’s no internet!!!” I must admit I chuckled a little at her juvenile frustration. But when I heard that second line—“I need internet!!”—that’s when I began to think about how far we’ve come. 

“I need….”

What do you need that you don’t already have? What do I need? For most of us, the honest answer is, “Not much.” Little Emma was comfortably dressed, spending her time in climate controlled comfort, and surrounded by access to plenty of food, clean water and sanitation. I can say the same of myself today. Chances are, so can you.

Yet still we clamor.

Our basic needs satisfied, we come up with new ones, false ones that keep us from contentment. Worse yet, those trumped up “needs” keep us from thanking our Heavenly Father for his generous provision, time and time again. What a shame!

And here’s another twist to my story. The Sacramento airport provides free high speed internet all over its two terminals. All Emma needed to do was apply a little patience, and maybe ask her dad for help, before her rather unnecessary want would be fulfilled.

Analogy alert! How often does our Lord even desire to fulfill our wants—those in line with his wise will—if we’ll only ask him and then apply a little patience to the situation?

Here are the verses that come to mind as I type:

  • “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
  • “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:8).
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

I’m asking you (and myself as well) to take action in three ways this week:

  • Assess your needs and notice how well the Lord has met them.
  • Tell the Lord your wants as well, then be patient as you wait for him to fulfill the ones that are best for you.
  • And give hearty thanks for all that you’ve been given!

Contentment (and Ashland Page Two)

conductor GDJ via PixabayMy pastor asked an interesting question last week:

“When was the last time you were just content?”

Previous verses on contentment are recopied at the bottom of this post, but I’ve added one more here:

Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6b).

We know God wants us to be godly. I think he’s made it pretty clear that he wants us to be content as well. So here’s yet another thought from my time at the American Band College concert in Ashland:

Those very accomplished instrumentalists took their cues from the conductor, no matter how well they thought they knew the music. They knew who was in charge and followed his lead without reserve—no pause, no questions asked. And you can bet the same was true not only for the performance, but for all the rehearsals as well.

So, do we really believe God has a perfect plan? Do we really believe he is all-knowing and all-powerful and all loving? Then why do we ever question, disobey or talk ourselves into going with our own desires instead of following his instructions and commands?

I can almost hear you saying, “But how do I know what he wants me to do?” Fair question, some of the time, and essays on discernment are for another day. But let’s be honest here. There’s a lot we do know about what he wants us to do—and not do. We act like two-year-olds sometimes, insisting on our own way from either from lack of trust, selfishness or pure ignorance.

And I wonder, can there be true contentment without godliness? Maybe not.

So, when was the last time you were just content? If it was a long time ago, what are you doing about that?

Bible Recap:

But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content” (Psalm 131:2).

The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble” (Proverbs 19:23).

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12).

Be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5b-6).

Photo by GDJ via Pixabay